A2Empowerment Scholarship Winners

Our A2E Scholarship winners! The photo features our Peace Corp volunteers, Alex & Joyce Hall, along with the principle (left) and vice principle (right)!

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This photo includes the A2E Scholarship winners and their family members that came to the information meeting for the family contract.

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Meet the Girls: Sa-adatu Adamu

The following profile comes courtesy of Dicko Sulle, the interim head of English Language and Literature of English Expression at GSS Upkwa.

“Sa-adatu Adamu is a first time recipient of the A2 Empowerment
scholarship. Last year, former Peace Corps Volunteer and i missed her
a lot on the program. One of the outspoken and front role player among
all the girls, Sa-adatu Adamu is the type of girl to be on such a
program. In fact, we included her for most of our sessions last year
because she triggers discussions and pulls the girls along in public
speaking. Coming from a community where women play the back role, most
of the girls spoke in their armpits out of shame and shyness. It took
the likes of Sa-adatu to break the silence and even engage the boys in
discussing gender sensitive topics. She is focused and [does] not avoid
eye contact when speaking to her teachers let alone her peers.

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“Our wish have been to have her on the program and we luckily did. She
is also one of those girls who has multitudes of potential husbands
for her beauty and elegance. ” Sa-adatu Adamu will not stop school for
any man until she finishes school” her father declared when [I] sought
to know from him how he is coping with the pressure of marrying her
off. On her part, Sa-adatu is bent on continuing school and dreams to
become a journalist. She is writing her end of course GCE Ordinary
Level examination this June 2016. If she succeeds, she will proceed to
high school out of Upkwa, her village. Going out of Upkwa to continue
high school remains a serious threat to the education of not only
Sa-adatu but all the girls. Because this will mean them staying away
from their parents, a thing which majority of parents would not prefer
for various reasons. Among the reasons is the lack of money to pay for
not only fees but house rent and food allowance out of home. The fact
that these girls will live alone is also a highly detested idea as
they think this will further expose their daughters to social vices
like prostitution.

“When [I] sought to know what she feels about the program, this is what
she had to say, ” I do not know how to thank A2Empowerment for this
scholarship. My parents are just too happy and it has increased their
pride in me. Now they see me as a girl who can make a difference in
the society”. Sa-adatu will remain at the center of school activities,
from [singing] the National Anthem during morning devotion to carrying the
school flag during public events. She is also the senior school
prefect girl who sits in all disciplinary council and Parent Teacher
Association meetings as a students representative….”

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Meet the Girls: Fatimah Abdullahi

The following profile comes from the Dicko Sulle, who is the interim head of English Language and Literature of English Expression at GSS Upkwa.

“Hi there,

“Let me begin the stories of our A2Empowerment girls in GSS Upkwa with
Fatimah Abdullahi.

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“Fatimah is an orphan who lost [her] dad to thieves
when she was still a few years old. She grew up with her grand mother
in Upkwa, a resettlement camp for 1986 Lake Nyos survivors. Fatimah is
a second time recipient of the scholarship award and is by far the
best in academics, punctuality, dedication to community service and
humbleness. She is a role model with a big dream of becoming a medical
doctor. She is now 17 years old and plans to graduate from secondary
school next year and go on to high school. Recently, her uncles
attempted to pull her out of school to marry one of her cousins. She
remained strong and determined to resist until the plan was finally
halted. This term that just ended, her performance in school was
encouraging more than ever before. “[I] will work hard to merit the
support of people until [I] graduate from school and get a job” she
recently declared to me a few weeks back when [I] sought to know how she
was faring on. Like all the other girls in the Aku community, Fatimah
wouldn’t have been in school if GSS Upkwa was not created. The school
is now host to some 57 girls less than 1% of whom would not have been
in school if the school was not opened.

“In the Aku community, secular education has just begun to sink deep.
Previously, Aku had total distrust for secular education. They claimed
that children who go to school end up morally bankrupt with unwanted
pregnancy being the  inevitable for the girl child. It was considered
a taboo for one’s daughter to have a child out of marriage. Hence
girls were  married off as early as twelve years old. Even now, many
parents only allow their girl children in school only as long as a
husband does not show up. Every year, we have kept losing many girls
to early marriages. But girls like Fatimah and a few others are poised
to change the situation. It is also my wish to see this happen.”

Note: This post was updated because Mr. Dicko Sulle was misidentified as principal at GSS Upkwa.

Meet the Girls

 

“I learned how to realize a goal. I appreciated our conversations. I was proud because I passed French and physical education. My class also won the soccer match. Thank you very much for your kindness. I would like to meet you but it is not possible so thank you for the good you have done.”
“It was good that we want to help the school with a filter. I am proud I never passed math or science until this year. Thank you to those who helped us because not everyone can pay. If I could see you, I would give you a hug.”
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“I learned how to use my time and the importance of school. This year, my class won the inter-class soccer match and I was proud. The scholarship made me very happy and helped me continue my studies. Thank you very much.”

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“I learned games each meeting we ate cookies and beignets and she explained why we received the scholarship. I was very proud when I received the scholarship. First I had ten and after I concentrated on my courses and got fourteen. Thank you for helping my mother to pay my fees and buy my books also for encouraging other girls to study.”

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“It was good that we want to help the school with a filter. I am proud I never passed math or science until this year. Thank you to those who helped us because not everyone can pay. If I could see you, I would give you a hug.”

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Who We Are–Board of Directors Edition

My name is Tom Landers, and I have been a member of the A2Empowerment Board of Directors since the organization’s inception. I came to A2E by way of the organizations’ President, Anne Cheung. My family has known Anne’s family for years. In my professional background, I am a principal and CPA at Bonadio & Company. Several years ago, Anne was describing to me the organization she was starting to assist girls and women with access to education in Cameroon. At the time A2E needed a treasurer and Anne asked if I was interested in filling the role. Having two young daughters and seeing  the opportunities available to them, I could not pass up the chance to assist in providing similar opportunities to those in need of them.

In my role I have maintained the organizations financial reports, filed tax returns, researched international tax laws and served as a sounding board on various financial matters.

It has been very rewarding to see the growth and success A2E has achieved over the years – please check out the rest of the website for great information on the organization and the girls/women it has helped. I continue to be inspired by our very dedicated board and the whole A2E team and the drive they all have to improve and expand program.  If you are interested in contributing to a girl’s education then visit http://a2empowerment.org/ to donate!

For more information, feel free to visit the organization on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

 

Who We Are–Founder Edition

Reflecting on her experiences as a science teacher with the Peace Corps in the North West region of Cameroon the things that made the strongest impression on Anne were: the disparity between boys and girls in the last few years of secondary school; the attitude of many girls believing themselves to be inferior to the boys.  She also noticed the struggles girls in particular faced in staying in school: their brothers were prioritized when paying school fees, they had extra responsibilities at home such as cooking, working in the market and cleaning prevented girls doing homework or attending school, some even were married and started families before they were able to finish secondary school.  Being the type who likes to leave situations better than she first finds them Anne felt compelled to continue supporting the youth of Cameroon even after she returned to the United States.  A2Empowerment started as a small side project that slowly grew into a larger more fulfilling piece of her life.

Shortly after starting A2Empowerment Anne began working on a Masters of Public Health and International Development at Tulane University. Her studies eventually took her overseas again.  Currently she resides in Jordan supporting the response to the Syrian Crisis.

Who We Are–Founder Edition

Video of Founder

My name is Anne Cheung, and I am the President and a co-founder of A2Empowerment.  This summer I was honored as one of Fortune 500 magazine’s Heroes of the 500.  My employer, Biogen, nominated me and created a video to share on the company internal website when the list was announced.  Biogen graciously allowed A2Empowerment permission to share it here.  I’m choosing to share this video, in lieu of writing about myself, because it perfectly explains my story surrounding A2Empowerment.  

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Who We Are–Intern Edition

 My name is Lilly Skerlj, and I am A2Empowerment’s summer intern. I am 17 years old and a soon to be senior at my high school. When I was 10 years old I moved to Boston from Vancouver, Canada. Because I moved at the age of 10, I was young enough to be able to call Boston my new home, but old enough to carry a different perspective that I had acquired from living in a different country. For example, while living in Vancouver I was exposed to very liberal ideas, which have shaped my opinions today.  Many of our friends there were part of the green movement, doctors who practiced socialized medicine, or members of philanthropic organizations.  I witnessed that they not only believed in the cause, but they lived their lives true to the cause. Because I have always been around people who sought to create change in the world by helping other people, I have always wanted to do something to leave my mark on the world. 

      Every morning my family reads the newspaper to keep up with what is happening locally as well as internationally. My parents discuss what is happening around the world at our nightly family dinners and how it has an impact on our life and the lives of others. The discussions often end up in debates, which are encouraged in our house. Additionally, my parents enjoy entertaining at our house and having lively philosophical discussions with their friends. I look forward to participating in these conversations and listening to new opinions. 

       My background of living in different places, and the environment of worldly discussion within my household aroused my interests in politics and current events from a young age. Two years ago I participated in a summer program at Brown University and chose to take a class about power, philosophy, and democracy because I wanted to better understand the democratic process, its history and the importance of its future. I was interested in global aid and political refugees, and my research paper in the class was about the impoverished region of the African Sahel and how to improve the impact of aid. I learned that aid, especially in the form of money, can sometimes be detrimental to a nation’s attempt to move out of poverty. The one form of global help that has been the most successful is expanding people’s access to education, allowing more people to have an opportunity to attend school. 

      At school, I am a leader of a club called Up-Close which is a place for students to discuss current events. Furthermore, I have been a member of my school’s Model United Nations club since my freshman year. As a junior, I served as the club’s Under Secretary General, and next year I will be Secretary General. My experience at MUN has made me passionate about coming up with solutions to global problems. In the club we have discussed issues like terrorism, international aid, the food crisis in the African Sahel, the oppression of women around the world, and balancing development and resource management. For every issue discussed, a reoccurring root of each problem is the lack of education, specifically for women. The fact that simply educating girls can alleviate so many different problems, compelled me to do something to help. 

        I read about A2Empowerment online and was inspired by the work that they do to help girls in Cameroon attend school. As their summer intern, I have been working on their social media outreach, as their cause is one that should be publicized. For their social media outreach, I have been managing their Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and have started this blog. If interested in contributing to a girl’s education, then visit http://a2empowerment.org/ and give a donation! Remember to subscribe for more updates about A2Empowerment!